Author Archives: Ingrid Tieken

How many usage problems are there, Emily?

Yesterday, I commented on what looks like the omnipresence of the split infinitive in usage guides and other books that provide usage advice: Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style (2014) and Cherry Chappell’s How to Write Better Letters (2006). The split infinitive is also … Continue reading

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How to Better Write Letters

This is a copy of a book I accidentally found in the Leiden Free Bookshop the other day. It reminded me of eighteenth-century letter writing manuals, so I picked it up. And very much like Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style, its final … Continue reading

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How careful can you be …

I’m going through the final chapter of Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style (2014) to find out how many old chestnuts he discusses in his overview of usage problems. I’m always hoping to find new chestnuts, so we’ll wait and see. Of … Continue reading

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2014’s most remarkable events in prescriptivism

It’s new year’s eve, and time to look back on the year that is almost behind us! Several remarkable events happened this year, events that we all reported on in this blog. First there was the new edition of Sir … Continue reading

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The first American usage guide

In the post today: my copy of Seth T. Hurd’s Grammatical Corrector, the first American usage guide, published in 1847, and found on ebay. It is in better condition than the ebay picture suggested: it has a green cover, and a … Continue reading

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An 18th-century Garner?

Within this project, we take Robert Baker’s Reflections on the English Language (1770) to be the first English usage guide. But was it? In the introduction to the Merriam Webster Dictionary of English Usage (1989: 8a)) we are able to read … Continue reading

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A vintage copy of the Concise Oxford Dictionary

I always thought this is what the COD looked like: Until yesterday, when I found a lovely, what might be described as a vintage copy of the book on the Free Books Table we have on the second floor of … Continue reading

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